Funeral home trains grief therapy dog

LUBBOCK TX - You can usually spot grief therapy dogs in hospitals, nursing homes, and even schools. But Sanders Funeral Home in Lubbock told Tuesday that they're training a therapy pup of their own.

What Owner Sam Sparkman said started as a joking conversation, ultimately turned into the addition of Mikey Sanders, a grief therapy dog in training.

"It's one idea that everyone, when they hear it, says 'Wow, that's a great idea, you should do it.' So we proceeded and got Mikey."

Mikey is an 8-month-old standard poodle.

"A poodle was a good thing for us, not only size-wise, but they're non-allergenic, so people who are allergic to dogs won't be allergic to poodles," Owner Loyd Sanders said.

Mikey is at the beginning of his therapy training, but he's already a big hit with clients.

"It puts our families at ease when they see him. We've already have families that have seen Mikey on TV or on Facebook," Sparkman said, "And they walk in the door and ask where Mikey is, even though they've never met him before."

Sparkman said Mikey still has quite a bit of work ahead of him.

"It's quite intensive, he's at the very beginning. He's gone through puppy school now, he's going through manners school and there are several different classes. After that, he'll specialize in his duties as a grief therapy dog."

There is no doubt that Mikey's presence at Sanders Funeral Home is making a difference.

"A younger mother came in who had lost her son, and Mikey sat in an arrangement conference with her and she petted him because her son loved dogs," Sparkman said, "And when I asked her what made her choose our funeral home, she said 'When I walked in I saw Mikey, and I knew this was the funeral home for our son.'"

Sparkman said that in cases like that one, Mikey is at the ready to make dealing with grief just a little bit easier.

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